CfA: Reading the Human Psyche, Francke Foundations, Halle, July 5-16, 2020

H-Madness readers may be interested in applying for the following international doctoral and postdoctoral seminar. An excerpt from the official website follows:


Reading the Human Psyche: A History of Technologies

International Doctoral and Postdoctoral  Seminar

Halle (Saale), Germany
Sunday, July 5 to Thursday, July 16, 2020

Organized by the Francke Foundations in Halle
in cooperation with Dr. Simon Grote (Wellesley College)
and Dr. Kelly Whitmer (Sewanee: the University of the South)


Advances in neuroscience, surveillance, and data-analysis offer the promise of unfettered access to the secrets of the individual human psyche. With the help of technology, our inner psychic lives — our mental habits, our linguistic patterns, our memories, our desires and tastes, our intentions — may become legible to ourselves and to others with unprecedented clarity.  To encourage a critical and historically well-informed perspective on this prospect, free from assumptions about the inevitability of humanity’s progress toward mastery over nature, the Francke Foundations in Halle will host a two-week summer seminar on the long history of technologies for reading the human psyche in the early modern period, broadly understood.  Doctoral candidates and junior scholars whose current research relates to this history, in any relevant discipline (including history, literature, religion, art history/visual studies, theater studies, philosophy, musicology, and the history of science and technology, among others), are invited to apply.

Conducted entirely in English, the seminar will consist of twenty-four sessions, usually ninety minutes long, involving discussion of pre-circulated readings and of relevant objects from the magnificent rare book and manuscript collections of the Francke Foundations. The final three days will be devoted to the work-in-progress of the participants, each of whom will present to the group a technology for reading the human psyche central to their current research.  Throughout the seminar, discussions will be supplemented by cultural excursions; introductions to Halle’s other outstanding collections of early modern books, manuscripts, and objects; and time for individual research and study.

The seminar will begin with two days of intensive, critical discussion of foundational scholarship (by Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, and Ian Hacking, among others), in which methods of reading the human psyche in the early modern period are described as technologies of self-cultivation and social control.  For the remainder of the seminar, participants will apply the insights of this and other, more recent scholarship to the investigation of actual technologies, aiming to understand each technology’s origins; the institutional and cultural contexts of its development and application; and its creators’ and users’ purposes, interests, world-views, and presuppositions about the anatomy of the human mind and body.  The result will be a large set of case studies, analyzed comparatively in light of the best current research in the history of early modern science and technology. Applicable both to the participants’ ongoing research and to any relevant teaching they may have the opportunity to do, these case studies will be chosen by the conveners and the seminar participants from a vast range of early modern possibilities, including:

spiritual autobiography
visual and textual meditation
theories and practices of affective communication in music and theater
the history of costume
diary- and letter-writing
commonplace books
confession and penance
spiritual medicine and pastoral care
theories of the soul and anatomies of the passions
experimental and observational methods and regimens of self-cultivation
thinking machines and artificial life
pedagogical methods within educational institutions
interrogation methods in inquisitional and other legal contexts
psychoanalysis and other psychotherapeutic methods
asylums and the history of madness
physiognomy and phrenology
eugenics and other tools of social engineering
techniques of diplomacy and espionage
state surveillance and policing
commercial surveillance
advertising and consumer culture


There is no application form.  Applicants should send an e-mail to <> and <>, including the following:

1.  An explanation (ca. 300 words) of their reasons for wishing to participate in the seminar, focusing on how the seminar would benefit their current research and what technology for reading the human psyche they would present.

2.  A curriculum vitae describing their academic career to date.

3.  The name and contact details (address, e-mail address, and telephone number if possible) of an academic referee who could be asked for a reference if necessary.

The deadline for receipt of applications is JANUARY 1, 2020.  


For more information about this event and its conveners, please click here.

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